To celebrate the beauty and power of Transgender people, here are 13 Trans Influencers and activists who inspire us. Their stories provide accurate and personal accounts of what it is like to be transgender, the importance of inclusion, Trans rights and why we all need to fight trans-phobia. Moreover, it really shows how much everyone can learn and grow from listening to one another’s stories. Just listening.
1. Lillian Lennon
View this post on Instagram
I was recently featured in the Pride Edition of @nowthisnews regarding our work on the @fairanchorage #NoOnProp1 Campaign. I am so proud of us. “We’re coming. And we’re coming with love.” • • • #pride #nowthis #nowthispolitics #prop1 #proposition1 #anchorage #alaska #lgbt #lgbtq #lgbtqplus #queer #trans #transgender #transactivism #transactivist #activist #activism #love #lovetrumpshate
Starting as a field organizer, 19 -year old transgender and queer activist Lillian Lennon helped defeat Proposition 1, an anti-transgender bathroom bill in Anchorage, Alaska. As a conversion therapy survivor, Lillian joined forces with the advocacy group Fair Anchorage in 2017 to spread trans awareness and to fight to protect trans rights. “Trans and gender non-conforming people still have to live in areas of Alaska without basic protections and we have to change that.”
On Twitter, Lillian inspires her followers to be kind to others, to be allies to the LGBTQ community and to un-apologetically yourself.
2. Alex Bertie
Both of Alex’s YouTube channel and book offer the personal and honest experiences that come with transitioning. He shares videos of his post-op surgery, gives advice to other trans people and candidly shares his story with medication and hormones. If that isn’t enough, he’s also really funny!
3. Nikita Dragun
View this post on Instagram
THANK GOD FOR PUBERTY… and a good plastic surgeon ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜 i can’t believe our dragun kingdom has grown to 3 MILLION! i’m trying to become a better person one day at a time and i can’t thank you enough for being apart of my journey. it’s crazy cus people always ask me why i post these before and after photos. i’m not ashamed of my past and no one should be! if someone can’t accept your growth and change as a person they don’t deserve to be apart of it. love you always. 🐲 xoxo Dragun
Nikita Dragun is a social media star, model, makeup artist, fashion entrepreneur, beauty guru and trans-right activist. She first rose to fame from her highly popular YouTube channel when she posted an emotional video tagged “I am transgender”, which has since gone viral. Her YouTube currently has 1.8 million subscribers and she uses her platform to advocate for Trans Rights, authenticity, acceptance and inclusivity.
Most recently, Nikita has made headlines by going head-to-head with Victoria Secret and their anti-trans statements in a viral Instagram video that has gotten more than 7.7 million views. Her video was in response made by lingerie brand’s chief marketing officer Ed Razek who said Victoria Secret wouldn’t cast transgender models in it’s annual show because it’s not a “fantasy.”
4. Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings is the 18-year-old star of TLC’s reality show “I Am Jazz.” She began living as her authentic self at age 5, and with the aid of her parents, she asserted her identity as a girl while demanding her school treat her as one. Jennings has since ascended into a role as one of the nation’s foremost trans activists and social media influencers. Her YouTube channel has more than 560k subscribers offers a personal account about her transitioning journey and the experiences she has along the way.
Her online presence also includes trans activism. In an article with the HuffPost Jennings says, ” I’m not gonna give my attention to the Trump administration and people who are not supportive of the transgender community. Instead, I’m trying to speak with others out there and tell them not to be afraid of being who they are. I tell them not to worry. The government doesn’t have power over you ― people have power over the government. And you’re the people. So you be you, and be free.”
5. Kai Wes Bigwood
View this post on Instagram
In honor of #NationalComingOutDay: The picture on the left is from when I came out publicly about my sexuality (and quite literally the last time I ever wore a dress). Almost 10 years later, I am the person on the right, having come out all over again in 2017, this time about my gender identity. ______________________________________________________ I can attest to the fact that coming out does get easier with time, but it is always as equally terrifying as it is empowering. Coming out has singlehandedly been the most important part of my living openly and authentically. Not just for myself, but also to educate those around me. Because as cliche as it is to quote Harvey Milk, I think he put it best: "We must destroy the myths, once and for all, shatter them. We must continue to speak out. And, most importantly, most importantly, every [queer] person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family. You must tell your relatives. You must tell your friends, if indeed they are your friends. You must tell your neighbors. You must tell the people you work with. You must tell the people in the stores you shop in. Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all."
Kai Wes Bigwood is a transmaculine nonbinary hero. Using their Instagram platform to document their top surgery and transition, Bigwood advocates for trans-awareness and anti-LGBT+ bullying. They have a shock of coiffed blonde hair, regularly rock beanies and backwards caps, and frequently post photos of themselves shirtless, embracing their post-op chest. Hailing from Los Angeles, CA, Bigwood is able to bear all with a bit more ease than in other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t face discrimination or other forms of prejudice. Their Instagram doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. In a photo from just a month and a half ago, a mirror selfie exposes Bigwood’s chest and neck covered in bloody scratches. They were a survivor of a physical attack by their neighbor. “My heart hurts. My body hurts. I am fiercely angry and sad. But this will only make my partner and [me] stronger,” part of the caption reads. Bigwood’s Instagram is full of everything from capturing everyday life and hanging out with their non-binary friends, to working on creative design and photo projects, and making videos of their voice after each month of testosterone. Candid and honest, Bigwood shows us how queer and lovely life can be.
6. Eli Erlick
View this post on Instagram
A New York Times report just found that Trump is trying to take away basic rights from trans people by erasing us as a legal category altogether. This means incorrectly defining “sex” simply as what someone is assigned at birth. Any dispute over one’s sex would have to be “clarified using genetic testing.” If the memo is adopted by agencies, we’ll no longer be able to change federal documentation such as passports, will not be protected under Title IX, and won’t be able to access federal support in the workplace. This is one of the most horrifying rollbacks of our basic dignity so far. . I spent years working to change my passport, license, and social security to have the “F” on them. I’ve been harassed by TSA Agents, cops, and other officials because my gender marker didn’t match “how I appeared.” When I was 15, in 2011, I drove nearly 2 hours to the nearest post office that could handle the change. The postal worker then turned me down due to my endocrinologist not signing the forms in fresh ink. The next week I had to drive 10 hours to Santa Cruz and back then another 2 hours to the post office again to give them the “correct” forms that were signed. Because I was “only” on hormones at the time, the passport was only good for 2 years instead of the regular 10. I had to go through the whole process again when I was 20. . There is no functional reason gender has to be on passports. Even if you believe in upholding borders, gender, genitalia, and chromosome aren’t things you can see. However, having the correct gender on my passport meant I would face less harassment when traveling or answering to authorities. I may never have the luxury of an “F” on my passport again. Regardless of what my documentation says I will always be a woman. We will not be erased! . Now is the time to support trans people. If you know a trans fundraiser or org people can donate to please put it in the comments! . . . . . . . . . . #trumpadministration #political #passports #gendermarker #california #transwomen #queerpride #passports #donaldtrump #politics #mtf #ftm #transguy #bisexual #pansexual #genderfluid #nonbinary #genderqueer #pansexual #queer #undercut #santacruz #wontbeerased
Eli Erlick is a gender non-conforming trans woman who’s here, queer, and dapper beyond words. Her Instagram is full of political commentary focusing on fashion, politics, and education. Speaking out candidly about issues ranging from inclusivity within the LGBT+ community and historical references to queerness to gender non-conforming word usage and trans-exclusionary feminism, Erlick makes it known that she’s willing to stand up for causes that she’s passionate about. Documenting her transition by posting split screen photos of herself early in her transition to present day, Erlick shows her followers that its an ongoing process of self-discovery and understanding gender-identity. As a gender non-conforming trans woman, Erlick is constantly questioned on her more masculine presenting appearance but combats it with genuine activism coupled with personal anecdotes. Fierce and fiery, Erlick shows us how to be strong in the face of adversity.
7. Devin Michael Lowe
View this post on Instagram
It's #TransDayOfVisibility! I will never let the world force me into the shadows again. We are here, we are proud, and we are beautiful! Show the world how amazing you are. ❤️ 📸 By @akcorlette for @otherboysnyc #transisbeautiful #tdov #ftm #guyslikeus #selfmademan #transman #transgender #thisiswhattranslookslike
Devin Michael Lowe is an actor, model, and intersectional activist of transgender experience. He runs trans masculine support groups and workshops that focus on redefining and centering healthy masculinity. As an actor, Lowe advocates for a change in the film industry where more trans people can be cast for any kind of role. Lowe also uses his Twitter and Instagram to document his journey as well as gather people to come join his support groups. His goal is to create a safe environment for trans people like himself and support them throughout their own personal transition.
8. Vivek Shraya
With her colorful persona, Vivek Shraya shares her experiences as a trans woman through her Instagram, music, and in her book I’m Afraid of Men. Shraya identifies as a queer, trans woman of color who’s purpose is to bring awareness to racism and reimagine gender as a fluid concept. In her book of poetry, even this page is white, Shraya shines light on the effects of racism and colonialism in Canada whereas in her recent non-fiction book, I’m Afraid of Men, she speaks about the fear of masculinity imposed on her throughout her life as a boy and and a woman. On her Instagram, Vivek Shraya pushes the boundaries between masculinity and femininity and inspires others like herself or near the similar position to push with her.
9. Avery Jackson
View this post on Instagram
Photo @hammond_robin for @natgeo “The best thing about being a girl is, now I don’t have to pretend to be a boy” says Avery Jackson who I photographed for #NationalGeographic's special issue on Gender. Delighted to see her photo on the January 2017 cover – the first time a #transgender person has appeared on the front of the magazine. My contribution to the issue is a story about 9 year old boys and girls around the world. Check out the magazine for brilliant writing from the likes of Eve Conant and @aokeowo and amazing photography from some of the greats including @stephsinclairpix, @petekmuller, @kitracahana, @johanbavman.For a few years now I’ve been documenting #LGBTQI+ stories around the world. You can see those by following @whereloveisillegal #GenderRevolution @noorimages
Coming out as transgender at age 4, Avery was supported by her parents to fully transition, and through this experience she has become an advocate for LGBT youth. Her story made national headlines as her parents were passionate about going to great lengths to help their daughter be happy. Combatting the lack of representation of transgender children, Avery has helped other families find strength and encouragement in their own trans journeys.
In 2016, Avery became the first trans person to be on the cover of National Geographic and in 2017 she published her own children’s book about her life called “It’s okay to sparkle.” She says, “I hope that kids who read my book will learn what it means to be transgender, so that they won’t be afraid if they meet a transgender person like me. I also hope that if any other kids who are trans read it, they won’t feel so alone. My book can help kids and grown-ups understand that a transgender boy or girl can be happy if they are allowed to be the person they know they are on the inside. ”
10. Zoey Luna
16 year old Zoey Luna has been a voice and advocate for the transgender community since she was young. At the age of 13, she fought for and helped pass California’s AB1266, a law that grants students the right to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. She is also featured on the HBO documentaries “15: A Quinceañera Story,” and “Raising Zoey.”
Aside from being a social media personality, Zoey is also started a fledgling career as an actress and model while continuing to speak out in favor of queer & other civil rights causes.
11. Corey Maison
Corey Maison knew she wanted to be a girl when she was 11 years old, but was scared of disapproval from her parents. Little did she know that her mother, Erica, was coming to terms with a new gender identity of her own. Four years later, they’ve become a father-daughter duo that faces every step of their unique journey with strength and pride.
Back in January, Katie Couric featured Corey and Eric’s story as part of her Gender Revolution, a National Geographic special series. “They are moving in opposite directions but toward their true selves,” she wrote of their dynamic. To view their story, click here.
12. Josie Totah
View this post on Instagram
For so long I’ve been trying to hide who I was by pretending I’m someone I’m not. And I did it in fear. In fear that I wouldn’t be accepted or loved. I tried so hard to become a person that I knew I never was. But I’m realizing I can’t fake it forever. I know now more than ever I’m ready to take the step to becoming myself. I am Transgender and this is my story.
Former Disney Channel actress Josie Totah has recently come out to the world as transgender as her first post on Instagram. “My pronouns are she, her, and hers. I identify as female , specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.” Using her platform and her social media, Totah was ready to share her story as well as inspire those like her to be their true self.
“I don’t feel like I was put in the wrong body. I don’t feel like there was a mistake made. I believe that I am transgender to help people understand differences. It allows me to gain perspective, to be more accepting of others, because I know what it feels like to know you’re not like everyone else.”
Just like Devon Michael Lowe, Josie Totah hopes to not only manage going to college, but also seeks to expand her limits as an actress by auditioning for roles that do not constrict to the gender she was born with.
13. Laith-Ashley de la Cruz
Laith-Ashley De la Cruz started his modeling career at the same time he began his transition. The model and spokesperson has shared his story of acceptance and transition on news outlets in an attempt to demystify the misconceptions of being trans. He wants for people to realize that trans people are more than their transition.
“There’s a lack of visibility and representations for trans men. Even yesterday, I was feeling down because I feel like I’m always either fighting against or running from something. It’s very tiring to be the one who has to break the barriers. It may look like I’m doing so well and doing all these things, but the reality is that the struggle is still there.”